Horse search to re-create history

Michelle Slater

THE 13th Gippsland Light Horse Ceremonial Troop is looking for horses to take on for a long term free lease to help commemorate Australia’s war history.

The ceremonial troop needs horses to take part in east Gippsland Anzac and Remembrance day parades, as well as visiting senior citizens’ centres, retirement villages and schools.

Troop captain John Couzens is looking across Gippsland for the right types of horses, which he promised, would become part of the family and help keep Australian history alive.

“When people see us ride in our authentic saddles and uniforms, it means the memory of these light horsemen will never die,” Capt Couzens said.

“The only reference we have of them is in sepia photographs.”

The Metung-based troop began in 2011 and now has 18 members, but many of their horses have been retired to pasture.

The troop is looking for any breed of quiet, seasoned all-rounder horses aged from 10 to 20 and between 14 and 15.3 hands high to practice single file, half section and full section drills.

The horses would be taken on a one-month trial and would live on a 35-acre property in Metung, where owners can visit them.

Captain Couzens said one troop member was looking for a packhorse to carry medical panniers to pay homage to his grandfather who was a medic at the charge of the wells of Beersheba.

“Many pony club horses have been ridden in pairs or lines, and this is exactly what the lighthorse did,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of getting the right quiet and calm horse.

“They can’t be green as we don’t have the time to bring them on. We have one horse being delivered – he is a beautiful standardbred.”

The original lighthorse – the Australian Waler – can be traced back to the First Fleet and was developed as a sturdy type suited to the rugged Aussie bush.

Australia sent 136,000 horses overseas during World War I but only one came home: Sandy, whose hide was mounted and kept at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Capt Couzens said his horses were a hit with the public and put a smile on faces at schools and senior citizens’ centres.

He cited one 92-year-old woman in a Paynesville retirement village who had broken in lighthorse remounts.

“Within 30 seconds we hoisted her up on a horse and her smile was ear-to-ear,” he said.

“The staff were in tears; she hadn’t been on a horse in 40 years.”

People willing to offer horses to the 13th Gippsland Light Horse Ceremonial Troop can email John Couzens at